Who: French President Francois Hollande
What: Concluded his three-day visit
When: 26 January 2016
French President Francois Hollande visited India from 24 January to 26 January 2016. He was on a three-day visit to India as the Chief Guest at India’s 67th Republic Day celebrations.
This was President Hollande’s second state Visit to India. This is the fifth time that a French Head of State was invited as the Chief Guest on India’s Republic Day celebrations making France the only country with the highest number of times so far.
On his arrival to Chandigarh in India, President Hollande was received by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on 24 January 2016.
Major Highlights of the Visit
• He inspected the Guard of Honour during the Ceremonial Reception in New Delhi
• He witnessed the 67th Republic Day Parade at New Delhi
• He attended the Home Reception by the President Pranab Mukherjee at Rashtrapati Bhawan in New Delhi
• Hollande and Prime Minister Narendra Modi paid a joint visit to the Government Museum & Art Gallery, Rock Garden and Capitol Complex in Chandigarh. Chandigarh was designed by French architect Le Corbusier.
• Hollande and Modi jointly inaugurated the International Solar Alliance (ISA) Secretariat in Gurgaon.
• President and Prime Minister attended the India-France Business Summit and Indo-French CEOs Forum in Chandigarh.
• 30 Agreements and MoUs were inked during the visit of which 16 were exchanged at the India-France Business Summit in Chandigarh while the other 14 were inked in New Delhi.
• French military contingent participated in the republic day parade of India making France the first country to receive such an honour.
The visit took place nine months after Prime Minister Modi’s successful visit to France in April 2015.
The visit of French President Hollande for the second time to India and France becoming the country whose head of state has been Chief Guest at Republic Day parade for highest number of times is of great strategic and economic significance for both the countries.
The strategic significance rises from the fact that India has often look towards France for furthering its goal of strategic autonomy as it’s the only Western country which understands India’s political aspirations and with whom India shares similar values.
Also strategic involvement with other major powers means compromise as the US drives very tough bargain; Russia lacks technology, capital and diplomatic heft; China has adopted Pakistan as an “all-weather ally” to contain India.
It is also an occasion for both the countries to reflect on republics as systems of government and how they continuously learn from each other.